Tag: wealth

May 01

92% of Americans prefer Swedish distribution of wealth.

The mal-distribution of wealth in the United States is at all time highs.  A 2005 study conducted before the largest financial theft in history showed that (1) Americans overwhelmingly prefer a fairer distribution of wealth, and (2) they don’t know how badly wealth is currently distributed.  Here’s the pdf.

The study’s 5,522 participants were randomly selected from a panel of one million people, and were representative of adult Americans in terms of sex ratio, incomes, political leanings (Bush vs. Kerry voters), and geography.  Each participant was given the same definition of wealth:

“Wealth, also known as net worth, is defined as the total value of everything someone owns minus any debt that he or she owes. A person’s net worth includes his or her bank account savings plus the value of other things such as property, stocks, bonds, art, collections, etc., minus the value of things like loans and mortgages.”

Participants were then given a preference test using unlabeled pie charts showing different distributions of wealth across five quintiles.

Americans Prefer Sweden

For the first task, we created three unlabeled pie charts of wealth distributions, one of which depicted a perfectly equal distribution of wealth. Unbeknownst to respondents, a second distribution reflected the wealth distribution in the United States; in order to create a distribution with a level of inequality that clearly fell in between these two charts, we constructed a third pie chart from the income distribution of Sweden (Figure 1).2 We presented respondents with the three pair-wise combinations of these pie charts (in random order) and asked them to choose which nation they would rather join given a “Rawls constraint” for determining a just society (Rawls, 1971):

“In considering this question, imagine that if you joined this nation, you would be randomly assigned to a place in the distribution, so you could end up anywhere in this distribution, from the very richest to the very poorest.”

Here are the results of the pair-wise preference tests (with labels now added to the graphs):

Apr 05

Quaker Schools: The Testimony of Cognitive Dissonance

A recent article in The New York Times about Quaker schools has ginned up no small controversy within the Religious Society of Friends.  The association between individual Quaker meetings and churches and affiliated schools has long been contentious.  And it has been contentious in meetings and churches across the country.  This issue is especially commonplace on the East Coast, which is historically where most Quakers settled and lived.  The Times article correctly notes that these schools have often become bastions of higher income, not of Quaker teaching.  Quaker principles often include self-sufficiency, making do, and keeping matters simple.  

Jan 04

TEA what TEA, Hard Stuff from now on

Gotta keep these cushy jobs!

Elected As Cost Cutters, GOP Freshmen Will Party With Fatcats Tonight

Tea Party Populists Will Be Among Republicans At Private High Roller Gala

Hey it’s a hard work a comin, what with more destruction that wasn’t finished in the 109th, gotta make friends with the cash cows.

Oct 07

“Inside Job” the Movie!!

This is goin to be short, it just hit my in box so I wanted to pass it on.

Inside Job Trailer



{There are a few other clips at the Movie site}

Oct 05

Grayson Untangles the Web of Fraud in the ‘Foreclosure Mills’

Citigroup, Ally Sued for Racketeering Over Database

Bloomberg

By Margaret Cronin Fisk and Thom Weidlich – Oct 4, 2010

Citigroup Inc. and Ally Financial Inc. units were sued by homeowners in Kentucky for allegedly conspiring with Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Inc. to falsely foreclose on loans.

The lawsuit, filed as a civil-racketeering class action on behalf of all Kentucky homeowners facing foreclosure, also names as a defendant Reston, Virginia-based MERS, the company that handles mortgage transfers among member banks. The suit claims that through MERS the banks are foreclosing on homes even when they don’t hold titles to the properties.

[…]

The homeowners claim the defendants filed or caused to be filed mortgages with forged signatures, filed foreclosure actions months before they acquired any legal interest in the properties and falsely claimed to own notes executed with mortgages.

Forgery is No Joke.

Neither is being evicted, by Banks who ‘really don’t own’ your Home.

Sep 16

The Definition of Robin Hood Depends on Who You Ask

Vince Gray’s election on Tuesday night as mayor of Washington, DC, was met with a curiously nonchalant response among city residents.  No one seemed much inclined to celebrate.  A city that is famously buttoned-up and all business, all the time, was precisely that.  The prior mayor, Adrian Fenty, was widely seen as a temperamental prima donna, but this election was less a vote about specific District issues as it was a referendum on his leadership.  The results, a decided victory for Gray, were a backlash among many towards Fenty’s perceived stance in favor of more affluent parts of town, particularly those in the Northwest quadrant of the District.  This is far from an uncommon phenomenon.    

Sep 09

The Myth of Scarcity, The Reality of Abundance

One of the most famous passages in the entire biblical canon begins this way.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

And yet, wanting more, desiring more, being fearful that what we have will soon leave us, these anxieties are responsible for so much evil in the world. The myth of scarcity influences our decisions in so many ways. The reality is that we live in a world packed full of abundance, both for good and for bad. And yet, when we believe otherwise, then we respond in ways that are frequently irrational and rarely beneficial. Leaders have a knack for making the nonsensical seem plausible and justified, appealing to the worst parts of ourselves. When we are obsessed with our own demise rather than delighting in the gifts laid before us, we neglect an opportunity to build community with others. This conflict is so integral to the human condition that one can see examples of it everywhere, especially where power and acquisition are of paramount importance.

Aug 09

Media and the Message. CNN; Retain Bush Tax Cuts

 

CNN’s Fareed Zakaria says the easiest way to cut the deficit is to let the Bush tax cuts expire.

copyright ¬© 2010 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

The day was Sunday, August 1, 2010.  Former Fed Chairman, Alan Greenspan appeared on Meet the Press.  When asked to discuss the Congressional debate on tax cuts, the man known to move markets, a person who leans to the “Right,” offered a decisive decree.  In direct disagreement with Republican officials and the profitable corporations that fund countless political campaigns, Mister Greenspan declared, “Look, I’m very much in favor of tax cuts,  but not with borrowed money.  And the problem that we’ve gotten into in recent years is spending programs with borrowed money, tax cuts with borrowed money, and at the end of the day, that proves disastrous.  And my view is I don’t think we can play subtle policy here on it.”  

This statement was as a slap in the face to corporations, or more correctly to the tycoons who head these firms.  Multi-millionaire media moguls might understand this best.  These television and radio Executives experience firsthand that influence over an industry can translate into influence over an outcome.  Cable News Network Chief Officers are among those who actively make use of this truth.  Tax cuts expired?  “Never;” say network Administrators and the newscasters such as Allan Chernoff, who do their bidding.

Aug 08

What IF Congress was on Merit Pay — like average folks are

Gridlock

grid·lock

noun

1. A traffic jam in which no vehicular movement is possible, especially one caused by the blockage of key intersections within a grid of streets.

2. A complete lack of movement or progress resulting in a backup or stagnation:

“the political gridlock that prevented … the President and Congress from moving expeditiously to cut the budget”

gridlockChiefly US

noun

1. (Engineering / Automotive Engineering) obstruction of urban traffic caused by queues of vehicles forming across junctions and causing further queues to form in the intersecting streets

2. a point in a dispute at which no agreement can be reached; deadlock political gridlock

verb

1. to block or obstruct (an area)

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/gridlock

Aug 02

Gleaning: Bringing in the Sheaves

With so many people still out of work and depending upon unemployment benefits, I thought I might briefly explore one particularly ancient safety net program.  Republicans believe that welfare in any form swells the deficit and creates a system of entitlement, but I disagree.  Pointing back to the Bible, as I so often do, I’d like to discuss the particulars and modern day application of a very ancient custom.  Those who are up in arms about the very thought of welfare might benefit from a different means of framing the issue.

Jul 19

Movin’ On Up

The past several days I’ve been musing on the chosen strategies employed by the privileged and the well-educated to solve societal problems.  In particular, I’ve been contemplating the idea of poverty.  As is typical for me, I’ve been seeking to find intersections and similarities between seemingly divergent topics, all in the hopes of eliminating confusion among everyone.  Sometimes we disagree because we inadvertently work at cross-purposes to each other.  The anecdote to follow illustrates how social class muddies the waters quite considerably, and how in the process we often find ourselves talking past one another.  I’ve found this exercise personally helpful in many instances, and I tell it now in the hopes that readers might feel the same.

Jul 04

The True Wealth Deficit

“This is an impressive crowd: the Have’s and Have-more’s. Some people call you the elites. I call you my base.”

George W. Bush

“It is not the creation of wealth that is wrong, but the love of money for its own sake.”

Margaret Thatcher

“Being rich is having money; being wealthy is having time.”

Margaret Bonnano

lest we forget …

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